Military utilizing 3D printing stealth keys.

The military has enlisted the help of UrbanAlps, a Swiss high-security company, and Fieldmade, a spin-off from the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI) to produce 3D printed stealth keys.

The stealth keys will be produced using one of fieldmade’s mobile additive manufacturing units, the nomad, instead of a large factory to reduce the threat of unauthorized duplicates. Alejandro Ojeda, CEO and founder of Urban Alps, stated: “This collaboration marks the beginning of a new industrial era, where high-security mechanical keys are shipped digitally and turned into physical products at the customer’s location, no matter how remote the location – no shipping costs, no customs, immediately, and safe from unauthorized duplication.”

Fieldmade broke off from (FFI) in 2016 with the goal to develop, produce and sell fully-integrated additive manufacturing solutions. The NOMAD, fieldmades microfactory, includes a military ISO/CSC certified container, printer cells with environmental control, fully damped printer bases (AIR, SEA, and LAND transportable), and Quality Assurance and inspection tools.

The NOMAD is capable of 4 types of additive manufacturing at the moment powder bed fusion, VAT polymerization, Direct Energy Deposition (DED), and material extrusion.

Christian Duun Norberg, founder and CEO of Fieldmade, explained, “Fieldmade’s aim is to find innovative ways to bring more value to the customer, not just a revolutionary key but the benefits that novel additive manufacturing entails, for instance, a digital supply chain.”

The stealth key was on display at last month’s  Formnext show in Frankfurt, and took top prize from the seventh edition of the Purmundus Challenge.The stealth keys has several variations including half-cylinder, double cylinder, double cylinder thumbturn, camlock cylinder and stealth padlocks made with the same superalloys in SpaceX rocket engines. To help identify keys they can be engraved of have different colored keycaps.

Vialva, Tia, et al. “UrbanAlps and Fieldmade to 3D Print Stealth Keys on-Demand for the Military.” 3D Printing Industry, 10 Dec. 2019, 3dprintingindustry.com/news/urbanalps-and-fieldmade-to-3d-print-stealth-keys-on-demand-for-the-military-166150/.